New government stats show renewable generation grew by almost five per cent in 2019, while coal, gas and nuclear all experienced declines in output
The transition to a cleaner energy system continued apace last year, according to new provisional data from the government suggesting renewables output surged last year, as energy efficiency gains continued and fossil fuel energy generation slipped. As a result, low carbon power generation accounted for over half of the grid mix for the first time.
Overall energy production fell for the first time in five years through 2019, the latest statistics suggest, slipping 0.6 per cent to 192.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent. The decrease is the first since 2014, following four years of consecutive growth.
Energy consumption similarly decreased by two per cent through 2019, or by 1.3 per cent on a temperature adjusted basis, largely due to shifting patterns in electricity generation as renewable sources displaced fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, renewables energy production rose by 4.9 per cent through the course of the year, with an increase in wind, solar, and hydro output of 11 per cent to reach a record high due to increased wind and solar capacity, the figures show.
Conversely, coal production fell by 14 per cent, in a year that saw the UK go more than 18 days without relying on coal-fired power generation - the longest consecutive period since the start of the industrial revolution. Nuclear also declined by around 14 per cent to its lowest level since 2008 due to outages.
With gas' share of the power mixonly ticking up by around 1.5 per cent low-carbon generation accounted for a record 51.6 per cent of electricity supplied, up from 49.6 in 2018, thanks to record contributions from bioenergy, wind, solar and hydro compensating for a decrease in nuclear provision.
However, the stats also show oil production up 1.7 per cent, boosted by new production from the Clair Ridge field which opened at the end of 2018, whilst gas production was down 1.3 per cent, due to the closure of the Theddlethorpe terminal in 2018.
The figures follow publication yesterday of the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) December 2019 energy statistics, which enable a provisional assessment to be made of trends in energy production and consumption in 2019. Estimates of final energy consumption, including detail by sector, will be published in the March edition of Energy Trends on 26 March 2020.
They were released on the same day as energy giant Drax announced it would shut its last coal fired generation unit in March 2021, well ahead of the government's 2024 phase out date for all coal power.
Plus all the top green business news from around the world
Shell, Gasunie, and Groningen Seaports launch ambitious plans to build green hydrogen hub for northern Europe
The Loop circular packaging model is fast taking shape, and the company behind it insists conventional retailers still have a huge role to play in its success